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You know the drill these days. You go to the bar to celebrate the launch of your website with a bunch of great people, come home planning to fall into bed and dream about what gifts Les Miles might give us all at SEC Media Days tomorrow, and instead find a collection of emails in the inbox spilling out the latest social media scandal in college athletics. This happens when you’re me and both Auburn and Alabama fans have decided that you’ll be one of the conduits for each fan base to attack the other. This time it’s the Alabama Crimson Tide on the dais taking their turn in the borderline infractions limelight courtesy of sleuthing by Auburn fans. It seems that the folks at T-Town Menswear have made part of their business plan attracting Alabama fans to their fine establishment in the Tuscaloosa Mall. Based on their television advertising which is linked below courtesy of @warblogle on Twitter, Terrence Cody and Javier Arenas, among other players have had autograph sessions with fans after their college careers end.
There’s nothing wrong with these men selling their autographs then. But is there something wrong with any college kid appearing in a television commercial with someone named Louie Linguini? I think so. Although, let’s be fair, this Terrence Cody block sequence is Academy Award winning. Perhaps the greatest single athlete acting performance since Cody’s own shirtless forty yard dash. You must watch this video here.
But given the current environment where schools like Ohio State can lose their coach because of tattoo hook-ups, should a Tuscaloosa establishment really be advertising its store with autographed jerseys of Julio Jones, Mark Ingram, and Trent Richardson during the 2010 season? (The date stamp on the T-Town Menswear Facebook album, which you can view for the moment right here — before it is inevitably pulled early this morning — is November 1,2010 but the date on the camera is October 19, 2010). Julio Jones and Mark Ingram have since gone pro, although they weren’t pros at the time that their autographed helmets and jerseys were inside the store windows. But two of the jerseys in the window Nico Johnson, a rising junior, and Trent Richardson, one of the top Heisman candidates in the country, are back for 2011.
And no matter what Trent Richardson surely shouldn’t be posing for photos as he signs helmets in the store.
It’s possible that Richardson is merely signing one helmet and one jersey and he had no idea that the store was then going to put his signed jersey and helmet in the display case. After all, thanks to NCAA rules the only person not able to capitalize off the value of his signature is the athlete. But remember that Terrelle Pryor was ultimately forced out at Ohio State over allegations about payment for autographs while he was at Ohio State. So allowing a business to put up pictures of you and your teammates signing memorabilia on the Internet is just plain stupid. You gain nothing and everyone’s eyebrows are raised. So a guy in a wife-beater walks into a suit store, signs a helmet and jersey, and walks out with nothing at all? What’s the incentive for Bama players to provide autographs to T-Town Menswear? And how in the world did a suit store owner end up with what looks like national championship rings?
Those are interesting questions that it’s probably better not to ask if you’re a Bama fan.
But when T-Town Menswear placed the jerseys and helmets of current players in its window, according to @bylawblog who is a must follow on Twitter, they committed an NCAA violation. Since using a student’s likeness to profit is an NCAA violation. But so long as that student doesn’t actually receive anything in return then there is no significant punishment. A school must, however, monitor situations such as these and send a cease and desist letter to attempt to keep that business from profiting off the student athlete’s likeness. Because remember kids, the only companies that can profit off a student athlete’s likeness are those that partner with the NCAA.
Aren’t monopolies grand?
The relevant NCAA bylaw that governs this situation is found here:
“188.8.131.52 Advertisements and Promotions After Becoming a Student-Athlete. After becoming a student-athlete, an individual shall not be eligible for participation in intercollegiate athletics if the individual: (a) Accepts any remuneration for or permits the use of his or her name or picture to advertise, recommend or promote directly the sale or use of a commercial product or service of any kind.”
I’ve got an email in to Alabama to see if this situation was remedied back in November and will update y’all with what the University says about this incident when they reply to me.
Given that this was a public mall it’s hard to believe that someone didn’t tip off Alabama to the NCAA violation pretty quickly. As to why T-Town Menswear and the spectacularly named Louie Linguini is still advertising images like these on Facebook, I have no idea. But this is just the latest peril of social media.
If only there was a friendly police officer to protect us from all these darn NCAA crimes. Oh, wait, he’s posing with Richardson in the store. Damn.
In case you’re wondering this is what Scott Van Pelt would look like if he’d grown up in Tuscaloosa and become a police officer instead of an ESPN anchor.